With hopes for peace uncertain, Trump to visit Israel

Aaron Brown
May 22, 2017

Netanyahu also noted the significance of Trump's first presidential overseas trip including a visit to "Jerusalem, the capital of Israel", after Trump seemed to have backed away from his campaign pledge to relocate the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Trump has been holding a whirlwind of meetings with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia in the hours before he delivers a speech on how the Islamic world can help fight extremism.

He arrives in Israel on Monday after stopping first in Riyadh, while his Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt landed in Israel on Thursday to prepare for the president's visit. A White House official blamed Trump's fatigue for the switch.

As a result of years of terrorist attacks and provocations, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol gave the order for almost the entire Israeli Air Force to strike Egypt to pre-empt the anticipated Arab attack in what was dubbed as "Operation Moked" (also known as "Operation Focus").

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White House aides have tried to play down expectations for significant progress on the peace process during Trump's stop, casting it as more symbolic than substantive.

Speaking at his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, ahead of Trump's arrival, Netanyahu said: "I will discuss with President Trump ways to strengthen our primary and steadfast ties with the United States".

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Along with the USA, the participants include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Trump and the GCC leaders watched as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exchanged documents.

Officials are also on edge over U.S refusal to say that Jerusalem's Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, is part of Israel.

Who will be there to greet him?

And so very early in Trump's presidency, I think, they just want Trump to go home happy.

The third factor that could contribute to Trump's efforts is his unexpected prioritization and personal investment in solving the conflict.

Trump will meet Netanyahu at 6pm local time (11pm Singapore time). On Sunday, Israel authorized some economic concessions to the Palestinians that a Cabinet statement said "will ease daily civilian life in the Palestinian Authority after (Trump) who arrives tomorrow, asked to see some confidence building steps".

Mr Trump is also starting on the right foot by visiting Israel on his first foreign trip.

"I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like", Trump said during a joint news conference with Netanyahu at the White House in February. The reception marked a contrast from his difficulties at home where he is struggling to contain a mushrooming scandal after his firing of former FBI Director James Comey almost two weeks ago. In his speech attended by dozens of Arab and Islamic leaders, he toned down the harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric he had employed during the presidential campaign previous year in favor of trying to gain cooperation against Islamist militants.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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